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    Swimming across the Mediterranean Sea ...

    I have written before about Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), the chronic, degenerative inflammatory arthritic disease which I was diagnosed as having back in 1985.  According to new figures from the CDC, there are as many as 1.4 million people with AS in North America, and possibly as many as 2.4 million. AS affects more people than Multiple Sclerosis, Cystic Fibrosis and Lou Gehrig's disease combined.  According to the new CDC figures, it also now affects more people than are affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis.

    AS is a devastating, often painful and debilitating disease which can fuse the neck and spine and cause a variety of other problems.  My neck and spine have been totally fused since 1989.

    Tomorrow, August 30th,  Joel Stratte-McClure, an American journalist/adventurer whose articles on a variety of subjects have appeared in The International Herald Tribune, Time Magazine, The London Times and  People Magazine will be swimming 4 and a half kilometers as part of the annual Hellespont swim across the Mediterranean Sea and dedicating his efforts to the Spondylitis Association of America and their fight to raise awareness of, and find a cure for, Ankylosing Spondylitis.  You can support the Spondylitis Association by making a donation per kilometer of Joel's swim:

    To learn more go to



    Interesting. The Hellespont swim looks very do-able, though the trip to Istanbul wouldn't fit with my current travel budget.

    It's an annual event, and supposedly goes back to Lord Bryon.

    Here's another Lord Byron link that somehow seems apt...

    As an interesting aside, I notice that the route is a little like a big breaking putt, which leads me to conclude that the current is a non-trivial issue.  Like if you aim straight accross you end up at the Bosphorus..if you're lucky, or the deep water, if you miss..

    Ankylosing Spondylitis sucks...I have a buddy who got it as a sequel to a fall. (is it a potentially traumatically triggered condition, or am I pulling this out of my usual research dept/)

    That has always been a hotly debated topic over the years.  There have been a lot of theories as to what triggers AS, but so far, it's mostly conjecture.  For awhile they thought it might be a viral trigger, then a widely held theory was that AS is triggered by rogue bacteria in the intestines (known as the 'leaky gut theory').  In the last few years they have discovered more and more specific genetic markers, which pointed to some other types of triggers.  The traumatic event theory is not widely accepted, however, in the 16 years I have been involved with AS patients online, I've met far too many people who claim their AS was triggered by a traumatic event like a serious fall or an automobile accident, for me to discount trauma events as also possible triggers for AS. 

    As I get older I bitch about this and that; a little gout ever so often; a ciggy cough in the morning; a little lumbago from time to time; neurological issues from time to time...

    My old man used to repeat the same cliches from time to time. There were about ten of them but the one that really pissed me off as a lad of ten was:

    I was sad because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet!

    But damn Smith, I can only wonder my disposition if I suffered from your maladies!

    Thank you for discussing this important and so deliterious medical condition! I really had no idea.

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